Friday, June 14, 2013

Got A Little More Info On the Process From The Chair

Ok, after I put up that last post, where I posted some maps and confessed I didn't know what was going on, I talked to Chair Torgerson about the process.

He showed me on the Auto Bound software how you create a new plan and give it a name.  He pulled up a new blank map of Alaska.  Well, it's not completely blank.  There are lots of lines that he thought were various local boundaries or geographic features.  Everyone started with fresh maps. 

The techs weren't given any instructions except to just work on districts and learn the software.  He said they seemed to be having a hard time getting out of Fairbanks and Kenai, which seem to be the hardest places because of the excess population.  My understanding of that is this:  each district should be as close to 17,755 people as possible.  Fairbanks and Kenai each have enough for, I think five and three districts respectively, but then they have left over population for another half a district.  So figuring out how to use that left over population is the hard part.

[UPDATE: I got clarification on this later.  Kenai's population works out well to (I think) three complete districts.  But Kodiak needs population so they were experimenting with population from Kenai.  These are all very preliminary maps as the new techs are getting up to speed on this.]

Torgerson also said they were using a lot of approaches and coming up with unique options.

These working meetings are going to continue through the 21st of June.  Board members will drift in and out as their schedule permits.  I think there are three Board members here today.  I've seen Torgerson and Green, and I think Brodie is in the back working on his own maps.  Torgerson thought Jim Holm would fly down for tomorrow.  Yes, the Board members will work through the weekend along with Eric, but the other two techs - Ray and Erin - are off for the weekend.

The 21st is also the date that third party plans are due - by noon.  During the last process there were a lot of sample maps that people could see and comment on during this stage, if I recall correctly, but it appears that this time there won't be any until next Friday.


  1. I am sorry, I haven't read your blog for a while, but it is my last semester on my BA course and I am planning to carry on my studies on a MA course so I have a lot to do.

    I learnt regional economics so I have some idea about this topic, however my perspective is rather economic than political. There are 3 types of regions: homogeneous, nodal and programming regions.

    We can talk about homogeneous regions when the similarities within the regions are maximised and the differences between regions are maximised as well. These differences and similarities can be racial, traditional, political, geographical etc... .

    You establish nodal regions when there is a capital/centre and it has a sphere of attraction (for example many people go to work from rural territories to cities. However in this case the regions can be very different. For example in Hungary, Budapest metropolitan area consists one thrid of Hungary's population.

    And there is a third type of region which must be the mix of the previous ones, these are regions which are aimed to decrease the difference between poor and rich territories.

    These have nothing to do with electoral things, I wrote it all down because in my opinion electoral and administrative regions should harmonise, because as far as I know (at least in Hungary) statistical datas are created for administrative regions. If administrative and electoral regions are more or less the same, then the success of a local entity could be measured much better. Then it is up to the decision maker if (s)he picks the homogeneous or the nodal region modell, but the transparency would increase a lot, I think.

  2. Ropi, always good to hear from you, especially since you are so busy with school

    One of the criteria for the electoral districts in the Alaska Constitution is socio-economic integration, which I understand to mean that all the people being represented by one representative should have as much as possible the same interests for him to protect and promote in the legislature.

    So, perhaps people in a district here, have an interest in a particular industry - like fishing. But, in the more urban areas a diverse set of people are mixed together, though they have in common the infrastructure, schools, etc. in that urban area.

    The other two key criteria are compactness and contiguity. I think people trying to set up economic regions have a lot more freedom on where to set the boundaries than the redistricting board, but I could be wrong on that.

    I would say, though, that I'm always suspicious of models that say "there are X number of something." There are generally a very large possible number of anything depending on your perspective, goals, etc. By narrowing something down to three and saying that is all there are, one is in danger of forgetting that those three made sense to the model developer, but that there may well be a lot more possibilities, maybe even better ones. Certainly more useful ones if conditions change.


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